Decided to Switch My Head Unit…
I finally have a car with nav in it (coming from my BMW 135i without it) and… I’m not satisfied. I feel like driving a high-end Audi made in 2012 should go hand-in-hand with a techy console. But nope. It feels dated, clumsy, and using a dial to control a non-touch screen is borderline ridiculous. So… I’m doing something about it.
I’ve read a bunch online about people using a Nexus 7 tablet as a replacement for their head unit. According to some guides out there, there’s a bunch of separate components required, some wires, some soldering… and a sweet outcome. I figured “Hey… I graduated with a degree in computer engineering from a pretty good Canadian school. I’m at least average intelligence… I should be able to pull something like this off”. And despite hating tinkering, soldering, and anything related to circuitry, I’m going to give this a shot.
I’ll post as I go through the purchasing, installation, and troubleshooting of this project and hopefully summarize it in the end with all of my “lessons learned”.
I’ll be basing my project on a couple of other installs that were already done:
I also have a few things I’m keeping in mind that I want my final setup to be able to accomplish… Some are mandatory and others would be nice-to-have:
- Touch screen
- OFFLINE navigation (optionally connecting to WiFi)
- Radio tuning playback
- Media playback
- Functional steering wheel controls
- No regression in warning lights or other stock car systems
- Ability to connect to WiFi to gain Internet
- OBD II integration to pull up fancy dials and read codes
- Upgradable to support a reverse camera
- Connect phone via Bluetooth for extensibility (audio playback, any Android Auto funtionality?)
- Answer calls in-car
Current Shopping List
I figured winter was the perfect time for this since my car will likely be off the road for a few months. So… I started ordering the components!
- Nexus 7 Tablet: TBD. waiting for Black Friday deals.
- Anker Ultra Slim 4-Port USB 3.0 Data Hub: Used to connect devices to the tablet
- Joycon EX Steering Wheel Control PC Interface: Used to map steering wheel controls (has to connect to a third party component and NOT my car directly) to keys/buttons akin to a keyboard/mouse
- Importer520 Micro USB Host OTG Cable with Micro USB Power for Nexus 7 Galaxy S III & Galaxy Nexus: An OTG cable is used to get power to the tablet AND allow it to have input devices at the same time.
- CTA Tools 5170 Plastic Pry Bar Set, 7-Piece: I don’t have any trim removal tools, so I picked these up to assist.
- 2X DROK® 12V to 5V 3A DC-DC Buck Power Converter Voltage Transformer Step-down Volt Regulator Inverter with Type-A Female USB Charger for iPhone iPad Phone Vehicle DVR Recorder: I got two of these to power the USB hub and to power the tablet directly. Sounds like other options don’t provide decent enough amperage to the tablet to charge it, so this is the approach I’ll be trying out.
- HiFimeDIY Sabre U2 Asynchronous USB DAC (incl. optical out): A USB to 3.5mm adapter to get (apparently super high quality) audio over USB
- Happy& Shopping Pair Usb2.0 Data Charging Adapter Cable Phone Micro 5p Male up Down Angled 90 Degree to Female Cable: A couple of downward facing USB cables because from what I read, this can be a fitment issue otherwise… This may be trial and error.
- Docooler Mini ELM327 V1.5 OBD2 OBD-II Bluetooth CAN-BUS Auto Diagnostic Tool for Windows XP, Vista, Win7 and Android: Going to try this one out with the entire system when everything is up and running… See if I can get some OBD information pulled up on the tablet.
And last but certainly not least… The pile of components from Enfig.
- Enfig SRWH-AUD3-B (same as SRWH-AUD3 plus Phone functions from wheel)
- Enfig SWCL-UNI
- Enfig PNP-UNI
- Enfig AAA-VWAUD5
- Enfig RMK5-TT2
- Enfig RMK-ENFIG-CAGE
- RMK Cage Brackets
- Enfig – RMK Enfig Trim
- TT2 faceplate
- Enfig RRK4
This was the most confusing part for me since I had no idea what to pick up. However, I did what one of the threads suggested…. I contacted Enfig and told them what the heck I was doing. Christian from Enfig responded by EoD and was able to break the list down for me. Essentially, this is to get the rest of my components hooked up to the vehicle. I also purchased their face plate which is apparently one of the more OEM looking ones on the market.
So I’m still waiting on a handful of things… I need the Enfig components and the tablet to really start to make a dent in this. I’d like to be able to hook up the Enfig components to the Joycon card (even if it’s temporary) in order to get the Joycon card programmed properly. Once I can do this, I’d love to assemble all of the components outside of the car and get all of the software setup on the tablet. This way, I can feel good about the state of the system before going to try and connect it all in the vehicle. Having it assembled externally will let me test drive the entire solution to make sure I can keep proper power to the tablet, put it to sleep when necessary, and that all of my media/navigation/integration works as expected!